Google Penguin 3.0 Update

It’s here. You can’t say that I didn’t warn you. More importantly, let’s delve into the repercussions of Google Penguin 3.0 Update for the digital marketing of your business.

Friday, October 17, was the day that the Penguin update hit the web running. This was confirmed by John Mueller of Google in a video released on the 20th. And while the rollout has begun and affected some sites already, today on Google+, Pierre Far of Google stated the rollout is only in its initial phase.

He said, “It’s a slow worldwide rollout, so you may notice it settling down over the next few weeks.” He also reassured the online community that thus far it is only “affecting fewer than 1% of queries in US English search results.”

So what does all this mean?

Of course your site adheres to website best practices and you don’t find yourself lurking late at night in black hat forums learning new tricks for keyword stuffing. Right? So in the best case scenario you might even see a little more traffic driven to your site from the update.

But I’m a realist and realize that some of you might be a little concerned that your stats will tank. Maybe your ranking has already taken the plunge. There can also be a sort of web metric domino effect in place even if your site wasn’t directly a target of the Penguin. The whole process discredits links across the board, and once discredited, they no longer add linkage credibility to your own carefully curated website. So if your webpages have suddenly dropped off the search engine radar, it may just be some collateral damage from the Penguin.

If you’re still not sure whether you took a hit or not, head on over to Fruition for tools to identify your SERP vulnerabilities.

Finding that silver lining

If since the Google Penguin 3.0 Update you’re trying to figure out what Google wants now, don’t sweat too much. Google only refreshed their algorithm, with no new signals tacked on as many industry insiders had been expecting. That means all the previous advice still applies here.

Go back a year and remember when Google’s A-team of web spam fighters unleashed the Google Penguin 2.0 Update. You made some website changes, didn’t you? You vanquished all those dubious spammy links and tweaked your content to get your rankings back . . . and nothing happened. Sound of crickets chirping.

That’s because it’s the nature of the Penguin to unleash its forces, causing SEO shake-ups across the web while positive results remain elusively undetectable until the updated Penguin strikes again. So if you responded the way Google intended you to last October, you should by now or will shortly be seeing an uptick in traffic to your site.

Keeping in mind that this is a positive development is helpful as well. If you fail to notice more traffic or, worse, fall off the SEO radar entirely, it is time to take another hard, objective look at your website and what it has to offer industry consumers. Consider what you look for when doing web searches. You want solid information from high quality links that work and no spamcentric links cluttering up a page. This has to be the top priority when directing traffic to your own site.

If you snooze, you lose

The old adage spouted at you by your high school coach rings true here, too. If you waited until late last month to make the changes to your site that were reflective of the Google Penguin 2.0 update last fall, you waited too long. Any bad links disavowed in the three weeks before the rollout will not count and you will once again have to wait for another update to see an increase in web traffic from those adjustments.

If you disavowed some links yet let a few others creep in over the last year, you may also see some negative effects from the update. Keyword stuffers and spammers over at BlackHat World today are bemoaning the total wipeout of their sites by the newly released tweaked algorithm. Those with weak backlink profiles might also have taken a demotion. Backlink profiles were specifically targeted by the Penguin’s algorithm.

Most importantly, the fact that no additional signals were introduced should give those who weathered the Penguin’s storm last year some confidence now.

But wait . . . I was expecting more

Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Lots of us in the SEO industry consider this a pretty tame development for most after an entire year of planning. So if you are feeling underwhelmed by this year’s Penguin as a simple update with no new algorithms thrust into the mix, you’re in good company. It’s even being bandied about in certain webmaster circles as Penguin 2.2 as opposed to the Google Penguin 3.0 update because it’s just a refresh.

Google has taken its share of criticism for this, but because the rollout will continue for a few months, you can still expect more changes down the search engine road. Some of the main effects have already taken place, but more are in the pipeline. If you’re still chugging along, it may be that you have a high-value website in place already or it may simply mean that they haven’t filtered out your spammy links yet.

Gary Illyes, a search quality engineer and the webmaster trends analyst for Google, said at a recent Search Marketing Expo East gathering that the SEO world can expect more frequent refreshes in the future. This can only be considered as a positive development as it will allow for much faster recovery rankings.

A response is necessary

Not to be too heavy-handed about it, but don’t get caught again. Google has no intention of calling off their Penguins and Pandas, so become proactive and repair the damage now to withstand future salvos. Big data management is here to stay, and it is up to the business owners to make sure that their webmasters are on top of all industry protocols and trends regarding SERPs and SEO. It is no secret that websites bursting with harmful inbound links take the worst hits, so either launch your own website clean-up or call in the pros.

For you DIY-ers, these are the targets you must eliminate for SEO ranking survival.

  • Link aggregates like link farms and article directories
  • Anchor text and keywords that are exact matches in the linkage
  • Irrelevant links in online forums
  • Links in directories unrelated to the industry
  • Content fluff stuffed with links
  • Links you’ve paid for

Also include in your search and destroy mission any incidents of keyword stuffing and hidden text that also set off the Penguin. Beware of thin, treacly content that is only rehashing content found on other, more informative sites.

You want to start over with a clean slate and need to rebuild from the bottom up in some cases. Google Webmaster Tools is one of the simplest diagnostics available to pinpoint and correct linkage issues, but there are others that work just as well, including Ahrefs, Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO. If you’re not comfortable that your tech skills are up to the job at hand, by all means engage a professional. It is vital to your survival and success that you remove all barriers to solid SEO rankings.

Future Goals

I know it seems too obvious to mention, but if you took a hit this time from the Google Penguin 3.0 Update, you’re hurting. And the only way to prevent a future Penguin or Panda event from inflicting more hurt onto a weak website is to tighten up the website with riveting, creative content that drives traffic to your site on a regular basis.

Add some deep-linked landing pages that expand on core keywords by providing relevant, in-depth information to visitors to your page. Using landing pages and deep links also makes it easier for spiders and other webcrawlers to highlight your pages and direct traffic to your door. Sites that offer substantial sources of relevant content make visitors linger longer on a website and increase the chances of them bookmarking it and coming back to it again in the future.

Vow to make this happen and invest the time, money and talent necessary to get it done so that you are better positioned to take full advantage of the rising tide of SEO rankings.